How To Treat A Herpes Outbreak

  • Herpes is a very common viral infection.
  • 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 12 has herpes.
  • There are two strains of herpes: herpes simplex virus 1 and herpes simplex virus 2. Typically, HSV1 causes oral herpes and HSV2 causes genital herpes.
  • Herpes is incurable. Once you contract herpes, you will always be infected. However, much of the time the virus will be latent, or dormant, and you will have no symptoms.
  • If you think you have herpes, see your health practitioner as soon as possible. Your health practitioner will be able to perform tests to confirm a diagnosis and advise you on a treatment plan.

When you do have an outbreak, there are some measures you can take to reduce its length and severity. There are two types of treatment for herpes outbreaks: episodic and suppressive.

Episodic Therapy

This type of treatment is begun at the first signs of an outbreak. This type of therapy will reduce the length of an outbreak and the severity of the symptoms. Some common episodic therapies:

  • Antiviral drugs. These are often very effective in reducing the length and severity of an outbreak. Most people tolerate these drugs quite well, but some people have adverse reactions, including:
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhea
  • Topical ointments. There are many different varieties of topical ointments.
    • Steroidal
    • Non-steroidal
    • Herbal/all-natural
  • It is also helpful to keep the area clean and dry.
  • Some people find that applying ice to the sores early in the outbreak cycle for 15 second intervals over a period of 5 minutes can reduce the time it takes the lesions to heal.

Suppressive Therapy

Suppressive therapy is ongoing and meant to prevent outbreaks before they start. The period of treatment may last from 6 to 12 months or longer depending on your individual case. Suppressive therapy can also help reduce asymptomatic shedding, making it less likely for you to transmit the virus to your partner. The most common methods of suppressive therapy are:

  • Antiviral drugs. These are also used as suppressive therapy, but the dosage may be different. Talk to your health practitioner about using these drugs long-term.
  • Herbal supplements may be a better alternative. Some herbal supplements have a very high success rate and no side effects. These are safe for long-term use.
  • Another method you can take as a suppressive therapy is to maintain a very healthy immune system. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and exercise, and making sure you get lots of antioxidants can help boost your immune system. A healthy immune system is more able to fight off the virus and keep it latent than a weak immune system.

It is also advisable to avoid situations that may trigger an outbreak. Some people find that stress or even certain foods can increase their likelihood of developing an outbreak. Be sure to consult your health practitioner to diagnose your herpes and before starting any course of treatment.


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